When is the idle babble of a little kid not so idle? When that child turns out to have been grown from a shard of one part of the Sephiroth.
The introduction of Alas Ramus started the greater plotline of the franchise, and this is the point where that plot really starts to take hold. Alas Ramus was obviously something special, but the revelation that she is a “shard of Yesod” made incarnate puts her in a hefty metaphysical realm. Both these names and the others that Alas Ramus rattles off as balloon or sentai hero/villain colors are references to the Tree of Life in the Jewish Kabbalah, with Yesod, Gevurah, and the others except Malkhut being Sephiroth (or sephirah), which are nodes on the tree; Malkhut represents the base, or Earth. Further, the archangel Gabriel is associated with Yesod in the Kabbalah. This would hardly be the first anime series to use the Tree of Life (see Neon Genesis Evangelion for one prominent example), but this suggests a more devoted application of its lore than most previous attempts. That also explains the tree which appeared at the end of last episode.
So yeah, it’s only natural that Gabriel would want a shard of Yesod back, and of course he’d want to recover Better Half, too, since Sariel failed at the task. (In retrospect, there was a clue of as connection here: the purple shock of Alas Ramus’s hair is very similar in color to the eye beams of Sariel, as seen in the first season.) That makes Alas Ramus’s words to Gabriel – about taking “Malkuth and Kether and Binah and Chokmah” – all the more curious. Just as curious is the strong suggestion that the pale-haired woman who’s shown up the last two episodes – and shows up again here to help Alas Ramus – is not only an angel but also the one who both saved a young Satan and (whether intentionally or not) set him on the path to becoming the Demon King. All of this speaks to a massively bigger picture to what is happening in the world of Enta Isla than we have had much hint of before. The flashback also explains why Maou accepts himself as Alas Ramus’s figurative father (since it was his actions in planting the shard which led to Alas Ramus), and why Alas Ramus would regard himself as such. Still yet to be explained, however, is why Emi is “mama.”
All of these revelations threaten to reduce to irrelevance a few other significant details in the episode:
- The amusement park “family visit” was every bit on edge as would be expected, though Emi seemed to be stressing over it much more than Maou.
- Rika was hinted at being interested in Alciel a bit in the first season, but now that attraction is looking much clearer and stronger. (Alciel is, of course, oblivious.)
- Gabriel is every bit as eccentric – though in an entirely different way – as Sariel.
- After being the victim of Enta Islan conflicts in the last two arcs, Chiho really steps up here to stall for time by willfully inserting herself into a third one. Go, Chiho! (This scene is also critical for establishing a precedent which pays big dividends both later this season and far beyond it.)
As well-handled as the content up to that point was, I do have a couple of issues with that final scene. Gabriel just does not come off as sufficiently intimidating in this handling of the scene, and that’s a mix of weak musical choices, questionable scene framing, and the vocal performance. Takehito Koyasu – who has done wonderfully well in many, many other roles – does not sound quite right as Gabriel based on the character’s portrayal in the book; while the portrayal of his eccentricities is mostly accurate, the description of him at this point in the novels makes him sound more condescending and threatening. That bothered me enough for me to rate the episode down a notch, but anime-only viewers may not be as troubled by it.
Otherwise, this episode is a solid adaptation of the third chapter of novel 3. The novel’s fourth and final chapter is a bit longer, so I am curious to see if they will try to stuff it all into episode 4. Based on current pacing, I expect that, but we’ll see.